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Posts Tagged ‘sufficiency of Christ’s work’


In this day and age ministry has become more about systems, programs and administration than it was in centuries gone by.  Sometimes we need to re-assess.  One way to gain a bit of historical perspective is Peter Beale’s translation of Martin Bucer’s book on pastoral ministry called Concerning the True Care of Souls.

Bucer was one of the Swiss Reformers in the 16th century.  He spent most of his ministry in Strasburg.  It was there that John Calvin, booted out of Geneva, spent his time until the city elders came to invite him back.  He learned much about pastoral ministry from Bucer.  Later he would accept the invitation of Thomas Cranmer to go to England, teaching at Cambridge.

He begins this theology of ministry with short chapters on the nature of the church and Christ’s rule in His church.  This lays the foundation for lays ahead.  The next chapter is on how Jesus carries out His pastoral office through ordained ministers.  We are to understand Jesus at work among us through ordained ministers for our salvation and well-being.  Yes, this despite the faults and frailty of ministers.  There is another short chapter on the types of ministers/ministries Jesus uses.

After a few more short chapters we hit the core of Bucer’s book- the tasks of ministry.  He begins with how lost sheep are to be sought (evangelism).  The bulk of the book is taken up with the restoration of stray sheep (church discipline).  He then moves on to how the wounded and sick sheep are to be healed (more church discipline), how weak sheep are to be strengthened & healthy sheep are to be guarded & fed (discipleship).

He spends so much time on church discipline for a few reasons.  He served in the context of a state-church.  As a result, there were many church members who were so in name only.  Some were obviously lost, forsaking the worship of God.  Others were wayward, bearing no fruit of regeneration.  There was much work to be done.  Imagine if pastors here in America had responsibilities for whole neighborhoods or towns.  They would be responsible not just for church members (people who showed up to worship services) but all the people living in the geographical bounds.

The second reason he spends so much time on this was because many thought this a “roman” practice.  He shows the biblical grounding of church discipline, and distinguishes it from some of the abuses that took place in the Roman Church, as well its neglect among some Protestants.  He also draws heavily on the Early Church Fathers.

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